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What's Your Hidden Gem Of 2013?

Tell us about an album, artist or song to remember

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 05:15 PM

Thundercat's latest album, 'Apocalypse,' is out now. Thundercat's latest album, 'Apocalypse,' is out now. (Courtesy of the artist)

Even as best-of lists continue to surface in these waning days of 2013, some consensus picks have emerged. Many listmakers seem to agree on big statements (Arcade Fire's Reflektor and Kanye West's Yeezus), irresistible upstarts (Lorde, Savages and Haim), and sneak attacks (David Bowie's The Next Day and Beyoncé's eponymous, 11th-hour listwrecker). And let's face it, what's not to like about Kasey Musgraves?

Here at Soundcheck, we love lists -- without them, we couldn't stoke the fires of East Coast cultural elitism or catalog the truly effective promotional blitzes of the year. But lists omit a lot of the big picture, by design. So that's where you come in. 

Tell us about a "hidden gem" of 2013 -- an album, artist or song -- that might not be one of those consensus picks on end-of-year lists. Be sure to explain why your gem shouldn't be forgotten once the year is over. Post your pick below in the comment thread or leave a message at 866-939-1612. We might include your pick (and you!) on the air.

Allow me to get things started in typical me-fashion: by picking three things when just one will suffice.

Thundercat, Apocalypse

Stephen Bruner's a pretty good example of the hidden-gem concept. He records under a pseudonym (inspired by the 1980's TV cartoon). Second, he's a go-to backing musician used by stars like Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu and electronic guru Flying Lotus. Third, he's best described as a "virtuoso electric bass player," a term practically synonymous with "hidden gem." Even if his second solo effort didn't top many year-end lists, it stopped me in my tracks. (Hear him perform three tracks and talk about his sorta-weird six string bass on Soundcheck earlier this fall.)



John Paul Keith, Memphis 3 a.m.

In your hunt for best Americana albums of the year, you might seize upon Jason Isbell's Southeastern and Neko Case's The Worse Things Get... (let's call it that, for now) as two records that tested the genre's boundaries. But don't overlook John Paul Keith's wonderful take on the traditional sounds of 1950s and '60s rock 'n' roll. 



Phosphorescent, Muchacho 

Pity the album released in the first quarter. I'll admit that I had to double check that singer-songwriter Matthew Houck's latest masterpiece actually came out in 2013. In fact, Muchacho was released on the first day of the NCAA basketball tournament. Perhaps we can blame March Madness if the spacey charm of this Brooklyn country epic somehow slips off the radar. Don't miss "Song for Zula" or the honky tonk fire of "The Quotidian Beasts."




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Comments [10]


My favorite new band this year is "The Weight." I think they are pretty amazing musicians -- their website is

and they have a youtube channel here:

They are really skilled musicians, and they create interesting blends and write great songs. I love them!

Dec. 27 2013 11:29 PM

Three rarely-mentioned delicious albums from 2013.
Laura Veirs - Warp and Weft
San Fermin - San Fermin
The Drones - I See Seaweed

Dec. 26 2013 02:52 PM
Marcus from NJ by way of Brooklyn, NY

Big Black Delta's "Side of the Road". This LA-based group is amazing.

Dec. 23 2013 05:25 PM
12-String Frank from Staten Island

One of the best albums of the year is "The Raven That Refused To Sing" from Steven Wilson.

Dec. 20 2013 03:57 PM
Andy from Belmar NJ

Someone else mentioned the Jason Isbell album, Southeastern. Amazing, cinematic, gets better with each listen. As a guy who quit drinking many years ago, I appreciate the struggles he sings about, without him being preachy. Everyone should buy this album, it will make you happy and restore your faith in human nature


Dec. 19 2013 09:10 PM
JMac from Annandale, NJ

Doh!... And I almost forgot one of my most favorite albums of the year:
Dinosaur Pile Up's record "Nature Nurture". It was released in England in May
(I believe it get's a US release this April -- but you can get on the bandwagon here & now.)
The song "Derail" is quite nice. Check it out... Much of their other stuff rocks a little harder...

Dec. 18 2013 06:12 AM
JMac from Annandale, NJ

Just can't contain myself: here's four!

The Joy Formidable "This Ladder is Ours" from Wolf's Law
(Power pop trio from Wales; grungy hook goodness)

Haken "Falling Back to Earth" from The Mountain
(perfecto Prog Metal from London; album of the year?)

Jon Hopkins "Breathe This Air" & "We Disappear" from Immunity
(techno classical (?) mash from London: another contender for album o' the year)
here's him doing two songs live...

Boards of Canada "Reach for the Dead" from Tomorrow's Harvest
(after nearly a decade, the jury may still be out; was it worth the wait?
I say for this song, yes...)

Of course there's more, but I'll stoop for now. Hope you like.

Dec. 18 2013 05:04 AM
Evan from Brooklyn

Matangi by M.I.A. Nice to see her retaining her signature style. Whenever I listed in my car I cant help but "get down" in a little.

Dec. 17 2013 09:48 PM
Sean Moore from Irvington NY

Grumbling Furs: album of the year on

Dec. 17 2013 09:28 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Jon Batiste & Stay Human. Fiyah.

Dec. 17 2013 08:36 PM

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